Favorite Television Shows

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Dec 14, 2018 3:12 pm

Watched first half of season 2 of The Gifted. It had worked on some of the flaws like the Strucker worship, is getting a handle on the Frosts and how to use them though her/their strand could use a bit of work to really impact, better logic mostly. It does lose something that made the first season so special ie the ordinary family shocked in the world but that make sense at this point and yes it loses first season sparkle. It is well made, still enjoyable show and this time instead of following two teams, Strucker/mutants vs Jace and the law, it splits into four teams without losing focus or getting confusing.

1) Struckers. Relies on the personal bonds between the family (which is strong) and the situations (less so), Lauren is the most practical and intresting figure with a tendency for parents issues to be forgiven a bit easily by everyone else.

2) Team mutant. They tend to be the strand to bring in new factors into the story
Morlocks were quite cool though their branding policy seems daft
, they initially do well with the situation but the story peters out, I wasn't that interested in John and logical during finale seemed to contract the characters and their nature.

3) Jace comes in later then others but has perhaps the most intresting/human strand once it gets going, exploring human nature and political themes
his being lured into the Purifiers
using a figure we have grown to know and they avoid scapegoating.

The other team involved season 1 finale spoilers
first season spoiler
Lorna and Andy with Hellfire club
. It is a bit mixed, it very much relies early on with characters one knows from past to get a foothold but initially feels slow to get going, once plans come into place then there is good action and scenes. I feel one key member of cast isn't quite clicking
Grace Byers as leader Reeva is erratic and not quite bringing the authority though has improved during half-season
, they bring in a character they really meshes well with another
Rebecca (Anjelica Bette Fellini) with Andy and how they reveal reasons to be worried
. It could do with less trying to be cool with outfits and hair, working a bit more on dynamics and more on the philosophy though they do well on this team's impact on the world.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:44 am

Saw first half of latest season of Riverdale that... took a jump towards mystic. It took an episode or two for the new tone to sink in and I enjoyed it, I think it would have been helped by setting up the direction a little better in previous season, but it suits Riverdale's nature and made for fun storylines. This and the what they did Archie
prison
made for a fun fast half but they moved away in second half and it lost something with a finale that felt too silly and trying to introduce too much.

It very much focuses on the four main characters, one or two family characters when plot needs, Ethel and big bad which leaves Cheryl badly sidelined and show misses her. Archie and Bettie have the best storylines here, tense, fits the mood, good interactions (bar Archie remains prone to being an idiot
he puts himself in jail utterly needlessly
), Jughead's is erratic with some infuriatingly Jughead behaviour and Veronica is repeating same beats. The show sometimes throws in something completely different for an episode to good effect, I found it best when it got balance right with flair and it used to the horror elements properly, maybe miss a spark of romance.
It feels like G&G plus farm where going to be the two big strands, with Archie jail time never going to be permanent then they changed mind to make it about Mr Lodge and his evil gangs, more grounded. Disappointing
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:45 pm

Watched second season of A Series of Unfortunate Events which seemed to work on (I lost interest in the books at this point so not sure how much exactly is down to this) some of the issues, less Lemmy Snickett which means his scenes are less disruptive and more effective. A bit more fleshing out of Olaf's Troupe, some welcome new additions to the adult characters with good comic performances
loved Lucy Punch's Esme
, a few more songs which were nice enough for moment but lack a bit of sparkle, better use of Olaf's opponents. There is a very good sense of a world before the Baudelaires, that when people meet, old memories/friendships/rivalries are stirred up and brought to surface.

It is still an erratic show, starting with (despite netflix attempt to skip it) the great opening song that varies each two part adventure and then.... the opening two stories and the last story were great, the middle ones dragged. When the show relies on the Baudelaires or characters their age (bar the great Carmelita Spats) to carry it, it struggles, I don't warm or particularly care for the orphans. If the setting and the guest characters are not intresting either then it relies on Count Olaf and co, they do provide humour and fun dynamics every episode but it wasn't enough. There was also one really really bad Olaf disguise that didn't help one story and just led me to groan every time he spoke.

When the guest stars are entertaining, the situation is right and the Olaf group are on fire with mixture of humour/incompetence and just a bit of threat. When Olaf is facing those from his past (usually with some great wordplay and insults), there is romantic chemistry with the adults (and some great innuendo), when the world play crackles, it is a great time. One can care quickly for the guest characters, have many a laugh, enjoy the adventure


======

DC and Syfy did a Superman prequel Krypton after David S. Goyer became intrigued about the planet when working on Batman vs Superman. Premise: Set in the days of Superman's grandfather Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), the once noble house has fallen into disgrace, fallen from guild heights to the rankless poor, and the city is under a theocracy. Yet something dangerous is coming as Seg-El seeks to re-establish his family.

Bit of a punt by DC, I know Krypton has been covered by comic books but how would casual fans react to a show about Superman's ancestors without the big names they know? This did get good numbers for Syfy so it did appeal and people stuck with it. There were also various challenges, setting up sense of city (mixed), the usual new show stuff like setting up characters+getting adventure going but also had, what to do with Superman figures and if to try to bring some in
they did to good effect
, how to work with the whole "Krypton will go boom in future" issue.

In terms of, leave aside the Superman angle, it builds up a pretty good sci-fi show but with stuff to work on. Krypton looks well made by set designers and the production team, on some of the aspects of life it can be intresting like the theocracy, politics, and religion but it is awful with the rankless or a sense of how the city feels and lives. It does build a sense of the characters and the dynamics, they are generally a likeable or intresting enough bunch with good young cast, though romances fall flat and feel forced with a tendency for love triangles. Humour is poor, mostly via bar-owner/friend Kem (Rasmus Hardiker) and
early spoiler
Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos)
, rarely clicks and the humour characters feel the weak point, my fav characters tended to be the Vax ones. The adventure, both short term ones and the ones building long term go along nicely, effective twists and turns, mostly well paced.

In terms of Superman, there are some nice touches and nods for even the casual fans, they use the fate of the planet for urgency rather then fatalism, they manage to include things like Zod family or famous Superman things and decides that the El's would have reason to have or know about. They also take other measures
Superman figures like Adam Strange and more turn up via various methods, I do worry one or two more turning up might feel too much
that worked effectively but needs to be carefully managed.

-I enjoyed the Vex's, the politician Daren (Elliot Cowan), his goal for the city, his reaction to events and I hope he isn't dead. Nyssa (Wallis Day) has a certain spark and cleverness, very much feeling like his daughter and the one figure whose humour can consistently work. Worried about the clone storyline they seem to be building

-I liked the the Zod's, the stern miliatry figure Jayna (Ann Ogbomo) and the more impulsive Lyta (Georgina Campbell) the damaged mother daughter relations, learning about them, the Zod sense of duty. Throw in a certain Zod of the future (Colin Salmon) who has a sense of authority like Jayna, expirence, introduced carefully so the Zod twist worked and how that changed dynamics, one could also see where the infamous General Zod came from. Good Zod ending

-Adam Strange I didn't warm to, partly the humour thing, partly I don't think they quite pulled off his dilemma and his handling of it well enough. The scene in "current time" was intriguing

-AI Val-El (Ian McElhinney) was cool

-The costume designers and visual effect guys did a great job with Rao/Brianac while Blake Ritson does great, almost otherworldly voice. I loved his scenes, either involved with politics with Daren, discussing religion with young Ona, exploring religion and power, the sense of otherworldly intelligence

-One also got Fortress of Solitude, Phantom Zone, Cape, Doomsday, Adam Strange's time travel thing
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:58 pm

My best to worst DC half season
Supergirl, Black Lightening, Legends, Arrow, Flash though at least none of them are poor.
, reviews written by when shown


Supergirl goes heavily political, using their humanity reacts to aliens to make points about modern treatment of migrants, of people fear of the other, politics and other things. It doesn't pretend, even with a symbol of hope like Supergirl, that there are easy answers, it shows willingness to acknowledge some errors of the heroes, it does show why people fall into paths of hatred and that it is rarely just a few idiots. One always know which side the show is on but it does the courtesy of trying to explore the other side and show where it is coming from. Not always well (when it goes into journalism, it can feel naive or clumsy) but I liked what they did generally.

As a show, it has mostly used the things it has learnt in past. Embed your villains deep in the story and show how they form, the baddie isn't as good as last season as lacks the emotional power that one brought but is still very effective as an intelligent, built up figure who knows the game. It has found a role for James and most of it's cast, Lena is slightly too much on the edge, it uses it's characters failings and strengths, seeks to have balance towards hope and inspiring, good adventures. Brainy makes a fairly good comic foil, it has done some logic follow on's from past events though took Alex a little time to fit into her role. One concern I have is that Nia (Nicole Maines) feels slightly underdone, a nice enough character, building one or two dynamics but we only got her in glimpses and if they want to do anything big with her, she needs more time particularly as the new character.

-Wondering when Russian supergirl is really coming in.

-I slightly worry that the President is going to be given a bit of a kicking. The Colonel (April Parker Jones) they are clearly trying to balance as a figure to show "the other side" includes good, capable figure, but at moment, Alex is a bit too right or getting away with it and the Colonel doesn't quite feel consistent yet. I liked that the last President being an alien has cuased realistic consequences

-I miss the Graves, they had a bit of flair. Lockwood though is more then capable of carrying it himself, a very clever figure who knew how to use PR, spin, show and his mind. I'm glad they gave why he changed from a liberal professor to a anti-alien figure and that he is a family man, Sam Witwer gives a very good performance.

-For some reason Manchester Black's accent takes a lot of getting used to, not helped by it being remarkably similar to Constantine's. I assume he will be a villain and again, they embed so one can see his descent into dark side, David Ajala has done a decent job so far.


======

Arrow badly needed to recover from a bad season, promoting Beth Schwartz to showrunner as the show needed turning around. This felt a lot better, focusing on a few storylines helped and not jumping from idea to idea, though I suspect the show still needs to trim it's cast. The seasonal villain has been weak, partly due to lack of focus, but was never the focus and they had one idea that led to some awesome action
the silencer, they loss of sound was effective for giving the action something rather different.
and they broke off at a good place with hints of what is to come in second season.

There were three strands

1) Oliver. Due to past events, this was a self contained one
in prison
, brought back some not very well used villains of the past and used them effectively, added one or two this strand only figures while kept the main cast from getting too involved. It revealed it's big twist earlier then I think they intended but had good ending action to the strand. Explored Oliver well and from a fresh angle, it looks like they have a new angle for him in future but, compared to Supergirl and past Black Lightning, felt like they flunked the chance to really explore a big political issue
treatment of prisoners, what jails are for, can justice system be trusted
, giving a token effort which made it worse then if they had simply ignored the issue.

2) Flashbacks
or flashforwards
. Something that most, including me, seemed to want dropped but they have something completely different and kept it, so far, at little bits. The main plot for this is quite intresting and it is giving glimpses at the characters but the cast for this, old and new, aren't quite gelling yet.

3) Team arrow. The effectiveness depends on the strand, Diggle is doing well, Felicity (after a slow start) both in development of herself and starting to develop a character that had struggled
new Laurel Lance
though I don't quite have faith that we won't see the old Felicity problems. Curtis remains "if he vanished, would we notice", they have struggled to find role for Curtis. Dinah has clear role but it got hampered by going for "vigilante vs law" and doing it very clumsy. These strands tended to depend on what the episode was focusing on today and so could be erratic.

-Not hugely engaged in rival Green Arrow yet. I am interested in Oliver's Arrow having to operate in the open and with police, that could be rather different and force Oliver to change his ways while being politically controversial.

-Was good to see Brick again and Vinnie Jones was used well, Stanley was good as a seemingly weak friend but the big reveal wasn't effective in execution, Ben Turner got some depth added though felt a little forced when they tried to retrospective it.

-Really thought Agent Watson would be used more and the Longbow Hunters would have more personality. I see why they kept Diaz for more then one season, his description of the pain when he hit water was well done, but he still lacks impact. Partly due to lack of time. Anatoly and Talia al Ghul is always a welcome presence!


=====

Flash made a misstep with their costume, usually they land those very effectively but the new Flash costume just looked bad and fake, I hope that changes. It was also hampered by injury to Jesse L. Martin which meant they, with limited sucess, had to try to cover for that and failed to bring in those characters whose strands are connected to him. What they did have was a good premise for the main season
Flash daughter time travels to meet Flash
that they used very well, new addition to cast fitting right in and charming, good dynamics, exploring the idea's to intresting effect, good half-season twists, seem to have settled on a tone. The main villain was... alright, went with the less is more which built intrigue, effective scenes but was a disappointment when they did build up the baddie.

Outside of Barry, new character, Iris, they struggled. Cisco had enough going on generally to be alright but team B felt overlooked, their big strand had promises moments but overall never really worked and it feels like Catlin's potential has been wasted for a few seasons now. The new Wells is... I like Tom Cavanagh but it has been feeling like they will find any way they can to fit him into show at all costs. His Wells is annoying, really unfunny bad accent and poor jokes, it steps on what should have been Ralph's detective thing. The 100th episode was well done with it's ability to use time travel and just use "what we know now" to add context to scenes we saw in past, episoc villains tends to be squeezed out by other things.

-Cicada flash back to how he met his niece and came to look after he was painful, the acting was poor. I am curious as to the anti-meta feeling that was teased by the nurse and I am somewhat relieved at the major villain twist

-Nora was a really good addition, Jessica Parker Kennedy really landing the role, the impact of time travel, the apprenticeship, the dynamics between the two parents, how history gets changed, the meaning of duty. Not all were explored quite as well as might have been but they made good episodic themes. I did feel the way they settled "Iris put a metablocker on Nora as a child" was unbelievably weak, Nora had every reason to be angry with what was done and it got glossed over as Iris had good reasons.

-Was great seeing Wells as Thawn again

-Sorry that they never found a role for Wally who seems to have left the arrowverse.

-Really felt they could have used Spencer better, what it could have said about journalism and about new media, can be easy to forget Iris is meant to be a journalist. I liked the gentle way they revealed Nora's sexuality using Spencer. Rag Doll was apparently a waste though it did have some good horror effect and Troy James did some impressive movement work, more could have been done with Weather Witch


=======

Crossover didn't include Legends, also acted as a "we want to make Batwoman CW, give us a chance" pitch
episode she was in
Arrow
. You need to really watch all three crossover episodes to really follow it, felt you didn't need to watch all three shows to be able to enjoy crossover. In terms of skipping, one show I feel requires it being watched (unless they complete ignore events in second half of season)
the show
Arrow
rather then wiki but the other two was stand alone enough and a wiki would do (or watch one or two "last time on" when seasons restart).

I'm ambivalent on crossovers of Arrowverse and some of the flaws were there, the big fight slightly going beyond the visual effect capacity, that cast aren't used to playing off each other so rhythm of delivery isn't quite right at times
double so when cast given alternate roles to play to usual characters
particularly when not involving the big three characters. The strengths were also there, the sense of people having fun, the wonderful nods
Smaville farm with Smallville music was an awesome moment
, it is nice seeing Supergirl team up with Flash and Oliver, the ability to have outside perspective or "these characters wouldn't know about this situation", thought they balanced the cast well by concentrating on those that would matter.

The adventure's villain was lacking but had a decent adventure, first episode concentrated very much on humour of situation
bodyswap
which led to some nice jokes but also some not quite delivered right, second and third more settled down into pushing forward with story. A key scene failed due to acting choices
big spoilers
Oliver confronting Monitor felt very shouty when it seemed like a calmer delivery would have had more emotional impact
but some good smaller moments and characters exchanges.

As a Batwoman plug, it showed glimpses of what could be done with Gotham, the baddies that can be used, Ruby Rose I thought was pretty good in the costume. Some tweaks to costume perhaps and what villains they actually showed didn't excite but only glimpses. I would give it a shot.

-I liked Lois Lane, was disappointed when clear this was to be a short role and to explain Superman's absence from Supergirl, she was feisty and intelligent, Elisabeth Tulloch did a very good job.

-Blatantly clear Oliver has offered his own life as sacrifice, it will be intresting to see how that impacts things in Star City as he becomes a more public face.

-Alternate Cisco's and Catlin's did not work


======

Black Lightening had a good first half to second half, splitting the show into segments or "books" like Book of Consequences and then others. The Pierce family are an intresting lot with good dynamics, they had good strands, their big bad isn't my favourite DC show villain but grew more effective, they introduced some fun new things. As it went on, some of the character strands just seemed to be dropped and it isn't clear the writers now quite what to do with all of them, Gambi still doesn't always fit, felt the show lost it's sense of Freedland.It's sense of real life issues and of creating a world still has moments but I did miss that aspect as it became more and more focused on the main 4+baddies.

I feel it's concentration and slimming down focus on the enjoyable end phase made sense for the half season but also saw a lot of strands that I was enjoying vanish either forever or for a spell and that was frustrating.

Things that got drooped
-Pierce and the school, Lynn and labwork+evil scientist, Henderson vs Jefferson, Anissia and her love life (though that one remains poor)

-They used Issa's painful power quite well

-Jennifer s therapy and the rift between her and parents was well done as was the rift between her boyfriend and Tobias

-I was hoping we would get more then two episodes of South Freedland with it's Perdi vs the Sange, I enjoyed Looker thanks to Sofia Vassilieva's performance but have their considered a more subtle racist villain?


======

Legends of Tomorrow knows what it is, the cult comedy show of the Arrowverse that has a small but seemingly devoted following. They made some good decisions during the break, changing the goal from fixing errors to time to dealing with mystical creatures that allowed them to visit historic moments/people but do something different. They had some fresh and funny ideas with those creatures, including one that was a very funny spoof of Disney
the blue fairy
. The long term storyline isn't quite built up enough yet, one sees the blocks are being put in place but at moment it is more about relations being built up and the adventures they are having rather really feeling they are heading towards a big clash/end game.

They have worked on an old weak point, balancing the cast. They now, in essence, a Team A, a Team B and the home team with Director Sharpe, this generally works at ensuring characters get their fair share of screen time and that each character now has a role. Some are more fleshed out then others or more focused on but it is a welcome balancing out. The new characters tended to be annoying for quite some time and take awhile to feel like "ok I see why they had them" while the balance with Constantine is wrong, too much "I'm so dark, so tragic", understandable in early episodes as they fleshed him out but became wearying and not enough of the lighter side that seen in past.

-Hoping for more Ray/Nora in second half of season

-Unicorn, the wonder, the magic... the brutality was a great way to start the mystic hunt

-Pushing Nate into home team was a surprising move but it allowed them to avoid certain Amya issues, flesh out the father and he got screen time with Ava and Gary so was a good move

-Charlie aka the new role for Maisie Richardson-Sellers, good debut with the shape changing then... struggled. Brit accent (a bad one), bit of a rebel was the impression for some time, only really began to knit together during the double episode finale. Was also wondering what the plan was with Mona (Ramona Young) bar annoying quirky and upbeat but her animal expertise helped her fit in by the end as did heart to hearts with Ava and Nora

-Enjoyed the scene where Zari mocks Constantine for actions in a bar only for it to get hilarious awkward. Zari as a person still feels a little underdone but she has become a sensible leader and a level head

-Not sure how long Mick's author creation walking around will work, his authorship tends to work best via other reactions or little glimpses

-The penultimate episode was a bit slow but I did enjoy the finale and the indulgence in it's own silliness
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:52 pm

Watched Sara Phelps latest BBC adaptation of Christie The ABC Murders, was on Boxing Day (probably not the right tone for festive period, this had a lot of sad themes and moments). This wasn't at the same level for me as her first two adaptation but better then Ordeal by Innocence. Had the things one would expect from Phelps: strong period settings, a good tense atmosphere (though we had a few outside interruptions), a strong cast with a mix of the old guard and rising talent, excellent title sequence.

There are certain segments that shine, the life of the salesmen with a very strong performance by (Eamon Farren) in the lodgings with Rose Marbury (Shirley Henderson) and daughter Jenny (Lizzy McInnerny), they build the dynamics well there. The murders are done well, some of the murder victim's lives and families are well done as one sees the build up, the impact it leaves on those left behind and good scenes. Again the cast of Bronwyn James, Eve Austin, Andrew Buchan, Jack Farthing, Tara Fitzgerald, Freya Mavor and Christopher Villiers did a good job. The ends of the these strands were well done and effective.

There are flaws, the pace at times can be slow every now and again a long lingering scene that are meant to be a tense but go to too long. Some scenes were modern sweary dialogue would have been better just being kept to the book's lines as Christie's lines had more impact then what they went for. Phelps had a message she wished to send about modern day
refugees, xenophobia, human cruelty
via this 1930's production, when done via dialogue or little scenes it was done very well but when done with symbols, like posters, it tended to show the same thing about a 100 times and got annoying. Did same thing with one flashback scene that kept repeating. Something they did with the ending really didn't work
major spoilers
changing motive to Franklin (Andrew Buchan) worshipping Poriot and seeking to revive his glory days. Buchan gave a good performance but the character hadn't been built anywhere near enough up for this to be effective, nor the "changes the reinvigorated Poirot went through"


The detective aspect, of Poirot (John Malkovich) and Inspector Crome (Rupert Grint) worked as investigation/detective and going with certain themes but didn't work as characters. Poirot's new facial hair works on Malkovich and he starts strongly with the sense of the tired and fame gone detective, in some ways as a Detective Person he worked but as Poirot he does not. His delivery is hampered by the struggles with the accent, there is no sense of flamboyance (costume doesn't help) or any sense of a meticulous ordered man. Just a old detective. Attempt to use his religion for a theme doesn't quite tie together and made some changes to him I didn't think worked
major spoilers
why change him from policeman to priest? I didn't think those scenes had impact and didn't justify such major changes
. Grint as the Inspector gave a decent performance and could see what they were trying to do with the dynamics and themes around Crome but it never knitted together into an effective whole for his character.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:53 pm

Saw latest season of The Good Place which felt erratic, was a spell where it felt like it had run out of idea's, was repeating the same beats and jokes weren't working. It did have some good episodes even in that run but I was relieved when it picked up in the end run, finding the humour again, some nice nods to the general premise
the accountants episode particularly
and getting consistency.

=====

Watched animated comedy Final Space. Premise: Astronaut Gary (Olan Rogers) is alone on his space run by AI H.U.E (Tom Kenny) and robots, waiting for his time to end when he comes across a strange being called Mooncake (also Rogers). This will start a series of adventures across space and meeting many beings...

Heard really good things and really enjoyed it, at first what draws one is the comedy with Gary being rather more hapless then he thinks, the conflicts with the ship and it is a very funny show. Yet it is also gently gives a more solid core, makes one care for it's cast, showing there is more to Gary then the initial jokes, building bonds and a decent adventure (though wasn't the biggest fan of the big bad). Some good emotional moments that felt well earnt by the way it built things up, good characters form around Gary and it builds well to the finale. Each episode opens with Gary trapped in cold space with only the voice of H.U.E and it reflects that balance, very funny exchanges initially but as show goes on, it reflects the sombre seriousness of his situation, using the relation between the two for a kick at the start.

======


Watched Australian and New Zealand half hour show The New Legends of Monkey, based (don't know how loosely) from Journey of the West. Premise: The Gods have been defeated by Demons, a resistance movement seeks to free the Monkey King (Chai Hansen) is formed but the task falls to girl (Luciane Buchanan) who pretends to be the monk Tripitaka. If they can free the monkey king, surely things will get better?

Wasn't impressed in first episode, things felt a bit flat bar the odd flash of humour, a little slow, the sets and costumes worked but the effects could feel a little cheap and some of the action lacked oomph. Gave it a second shot, the action was still sometimes not effective but it came alive as a fun half an hour, companions Pigsy (Josh Thomson) and the eccentric Sandy (Emilie Cocquerel) provide a lot of humour, the lead two are likeable enough, the adventures go along nicely with variety. The villains tend to be around for a few episodes and usually provide humour, a bit of flair and effective, the show has an eye for humour with dialogue and situation.

A few things to work on if they do a second season, fleshing out the companions would be nice, action could be better (though not something they rely on and never meant to be a strength), the big bad casting didn't work and it led to a slight drag during the finale section. I also wonder if the Monkey not being a charismatic force of nature is deliberate as allows for a shared dynamic but just wondered at the end if there should have been more of a spark with the lead.

=====

Watched third season of Man From High Castle which felt the most consistent they have ever done, had highs and very few lows. Plot advanced well that led to a good finale while making the sci-fi work, good twists, nice enough but underdone romances, good politics and some nice nods. The show has always had strong characters who remained impressive and intresting figures, added new figures who worked well and fitted in.

Usually when the show has flagged in past, it is due to certain pairings with core three characters that tend not to click and sometimes struggled individually depending on what was going on. This time those three have intresting adventures of their own and stand on their own feet, clicking with others with limited time between them that doesn't feel so flagging before they separate again to follow said adventures.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:27 pm

Watched Chilling Adventures of Sabrina based on the Archie comic book character (also the TV show in my childhood) with Kiernan Shipka as lead, the production team from Riverdale (was meant to be a CW show but moved to Netflix). Premise: Half-witch Sabrina is reaching age of 16 and she is torn between the mortal world of her friends, her boyfriend Harvey (Ross Lynch) and the one of witches, of the dark lord Satan.

This is very different from the light zany family comedy of the old one, this a darker more serious drama that plunges straight into a Satanic world. I would also say very different, bar the costumes and locations doing a "set in modern world yet feel of 50's", from Riverdale, there isn't a big mystery to solve, the romances have a different tone, the writing is less outlandish/silly and tackles things like need for feminism still and transgender issues.

Show is well made but sometimes didn't pull me in like I expected, I would suddenly be out of an episode for awhile though that got less and less as the show went on, some episodes can feel a little slow. Good cast, develops the story well and it's main cast (though side characters could do with more), very good world building with Greendale and the witches world (though that could do with more in season two, we get sense of values, history and rituals but would like a glimpse beyond the academy), good finale and enjoyable villain.

I like Sabrina and Harvey as a pairing, the way they mix her fantastical witch world with her beloved human one, the sense of hostile attitudes to things different in both worlds, that Sabrina makes teenage, logical (or frustrating but it was teenagers do) mistakes and pays for it. I like the characters in her world though a bit more fleshing out of some of the side characters would enhance things more, show does have a sense of humour and the real problems people face, uses magic carefully. Initially the Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Zelda (Lucy Davis) dynamic doesn't click but by the end it had grown strong, they have a problem with Salem as Shipka is allergic to cats which lead to clearly "keeping them well away" shots and limits to how the cat can be used.

One thing I really enjoyed: it's use of Satanism (says the good Catholic boy) and Satan. They didn't go overboard with it, they didn't try to shove it in the faces or go "look how brave/edgy we are", they didn't go "and Satan is super wonderful". They go with some of the accusations about witchcraft and Satan being true, they have rituals and built a faith, it has good and bad people. It also impacts their daily lives, they have their own version of "thank God" (or other terms) that are casually used today and it works.

=====

Watched second, and due to Disney doing their own streaming service so killing their Netflix shows, last season of Luke Cage. Lost it's sense of political power though touched on a few issues (also seemed to change it's own mind on the n word), music not as good, I liked the season but it was erratic. From the start it was "some good things, some bad things.", good: the fall out of Luke being a hero and the fame, fallout from past season, cast generally, Mariah, Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis) is a good addition. Bad: The clumsy handling of Claire Temple, the father (the late Reg E. Cathey) didn't click for awhile, the Jamaican accents of the Strikers were hard to get used to, Misty's "troubled cop" which included allowing her to get away with clearly wrong and fireable decisions.

It then wanders off onto it's main adventure, not with a jolt but it is surprising when such themes return near the end having had a long gap and that one feels more like a jolt when they go back to the early themes. Mike Colter is a charismatic powerful presence as a not always likeable Luke Cage (and they have some fun with the fame of being indestructible), there are good action setpeices, Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) begins to have an impact once I adjust to the accent though felt I had seen his path before. The powerplays in Harlem are usually great to watch, the stuff with the villains like Mariah and a frustratingly erratic Shades generally worked well but only Mariah came close to being a great villain, even she had off episodes and sometimes felt it was relying on Alfre Woodard's charisma to cover for writing. Some nice Iron Fist cameo's
(though Danny is trying too hard to be cool)
, the father clicks more, some good personal dynamics, willing to change up an episode to break the pace. Still has the Netflix problem of could do with a few episodes cut, some bad flashbacks and everything was touched with that sense of it could go a bit flat all of a sudden. Good finale so disappointing there is no more

-I liked Scarfe's fall led to consequences, Tilda had great dynamics with her mother including that great finale snub, some sad scenes between Shades and his ex-lover but some of his scenes with Mariah didn't click and his ending phase strand did not always click in delivery.

-Claire trying to push Luke to reconcile with his father felt clumsy and wrong message. Why should Luke reconcile with his father if his father was so damaging? Always family is not a safe philosophy

-Loved the episode where Mariah, Tilly, Luke+his father and Missy trapped by Bushmaster, some great conversations

-Mariah desperation for legacy and to get out was a good opening strand to lead to her troubles, feel she been arguably Marvel/Netflix second best villain due to her strong dynamic with the hero, her sense of family and Harlem, intelligent, Woodard's performances. Has been held back by each time she has been either second baddie or sharing with a warrior baddie to fight Cage. Her restaurant massacre was well done (Shades reaction was a bit off given his history and an erratic delivery of the idea it broke a line for him). Good end, sealed with a kiss by daughter (but getting a final punch herself) and with Cage, who is bit of jerk as she lay dying.


====

Saw second season of Gifted, felt it's strength was when away from the Mutant underground which could feel soap opera, erratic quality, a bit of cheese and whines, the odd clumsy moment. There was good stuff around Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and how her parents to things where influencing her, the struggles with Andy (Percy Hynes White) but overall the good guys were a weak point. I found Jace (Coby Bell) strand as the third figure to be intresting, I could see ways top writers could have done even more with it, but his personal struggles and the wider context within it was intresting and done fairly well. The main rival group has better strands and build then then the heroes, stronger performances generally though one key cast member takes time to find her feet
Grace Byers as Reeva
, it has a major strand is very silly written and not in a deliberate way
major spoiler
Lorna is the worst spy ever yet it somehow works when logic says it couldn't possibly
, more emotional punch. One "nod to comic" costume doesn't work
Lorna headband
and needs reworking for any season 3 though not been confirmed (unsurprisingly given Disney takeover of Fox).

-They did well making Andy a teenager, his doubts, the zelousy, the need for his sister. Fair to play Lauren being aware of how damaging her mother was being to her by desperation for Andy and the harder edge Lauren adopts.

-Marocs and her brand of humour more came into things when Lorna became the inept Bond

-Johnny struggled with this, lacks the humour of his friends, failed to deliver the emotional notes

-Blink is alive is... not a shock, neither was Reed's death given the heavy flashbacks. Meh on the Morlocks

-I like the split among the Frost sisters and how that played out, felt they got a good balance between individuals and them as a team of mind-reading sisters

-The Purifier raids led to some good scenes like the youth hostel murder and the sense of it spiralling out of control
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Mar 29, 2019 1:23 pm

Finished second season of Runaways which went along nicely, bar Alex being a bit annoying and some character shifts that don't quite work as well as it could have, juggles cast well, decent story strands that shift dynamics and add new things, parents tend to be more intresting then the children still, built up well to finale.

Finished season season of Black Lightening, still missing a bit of "freedland" though with a powerful moment
shooting of a mutant by police in a black lives matter
, Gambi better integrated and felt the villain became more and more effective. Juggles strands well (those it decides to pick up, leaves some strands alone from part 1), some new figures that fitted in well, built up well to finale that lacked a bit of oomph.

-I found the head agent Odell effective as a potential threat but the Markavian angle could be intresting. Hope Dr Jace returns as part of it

-Felt like the racism of the headmaster, one via his own poorness as a youth, could have been an intresting thing to explore but they didn't

-I liked Jennifer's suit and the excitement she brings to it but I hope they explore the complete failure of the daughters to show common sense and the father's tendency to be "be the man of the house"

-Tobias descent took the edge off him, don't think it was a good move, neither was the dismantling of his team that had given him some good dynamics.


====

As DC streaming service isn't here, Titans shown on Netflix. Seen the odd bit of the cartoon (and the comedy one), this show has Dick Grayson's Robin (Brenton Thwaites), Cory's Starfire (Anna Diop), Rachel "Raven" (Teagan Croft) and Gar aka Beastboy (Ryan Potter), no Cyborg. Premise: Rachel is a girl with something dark inside her and being hunted by strange people, she comes across the radar of new LA cop Dick Grayson who has recently left Gotham and Batman behind...

This show shot itself in the foot, a problem for a new streaming service (not so much Netflix I imagine) and for what is meant to be the start of something, before it started. Trailers gave bad impressions, that the show had gone dark (ultra violent, the eff Batman line, brooding, swearing) for "cool darkness" sake and apparently trailers of the finale fell into trap of "makes sense if you have seen the show, is going to offend people who were reluctant to watch it by confirming their worst suspicions." The redoing Cory's outfit so it is both clearly Starfire and grounded came up with... something that gives people the wrong impression when they first saw it.

The first few episodes don't help itself, it's action initially excessively violent (it can argue it has story reasons for that but not immediately obvious), though action also hampered by really bad lighting. It also starts off with it's weak points, Rachel's "horror inside" is not very good due to poor effects and and Croft struggles with that aspect, Dick and Raven as a partnership lacks chemistry and interest to hold attention. Pace is also a bit slow but the show works on the weaknesses including toning down (and proper lighting for) the action, the team slowly begins to meet up....

Titans is a fun, intresting show that loves it's source but makes decision that make one want to tear hair out. It is a show with decent action, a sense of humour, a range of characters with different perspectives and experiences as superheroes, a good cast with likeable characters and strong dynamics, a decent story, ability to do something surprising, a seeming love of the source material with casual and less casual nods though one doesn't need to know much more then who Batman is to enjoy. Darkness? There is the horror element that doesn't work so well but, ok with a bit of brooding, but it concentrates on the impact being a superhero has on figures like Dick, people who have done the job for awhile with cost to body and mind. It's CGI could do with some work for Raven and Beastboy mind, it mostly gets away with "don't have an actor for big name figure"
Batman
by skilful use of the figure while not ignoring it.

A big problem is how it is structured, 1) the focus is mostly on the starting two in terms of backstories or big moments, it is hard to disagree with the criticism this could also be called the Dick show rather then Titans as not an ensemble piece. The two other should be further along after eleven episodes in terms of development. 2) The "one episode main story, next episode something different", those episodes will have connections to main plot but not move it along, concentrating on at most one Titan figure (usually Dick) and sometimes none at all, instead focusing on another DC figure who might get spin off show or come more into play season 2. Not just once or twice over 11 episodes they will divert to these kind of episodes but around half of the 11 episodes.

Individually, I like the diversion episodes, some intresting characters and stories, some of the best episodes even are the diversion ones but it takes a toll on the main adventure. It leaves less room for developing characters and backstories (unless your Dick) so characters aren't where they should be by episode 11, it means baddies don't get established (there was a decent set midseason
the nuclear family, the odd 50's style and family dynamics was fun
but that aside), momentum is constantly halted. It can be frustrating when main adventure is hitting a really good point or build up to something and then it wanders off!

In terms of the main cast, I do like Dick, they do have some intresting things with his attempts to break from his Robin days, he comes across as growing as a leader and bounces off the group+individuals well, a nice line in humour, he makes a good intro point as the non-powered plus "knows these people from years in the business". I have issues with the show's balance (as you can tell) but not with their Robin or with Brenton Thwaites whose performances grew. Raven is helped when it focuses a little less on the horror and when she has others to bounce off like Beastboy, nobody will argue "the darkness deep inside" is original but it does it nicely, she is scared but has a sense of humour and it is good when nice things happen for her. Starfire and Diop in particular is the MVP of the show, from the start her moments were the highlight but they go with a very different version of the character then I'm used to. Usually she is the pure of heart, alien whose language is full of cultural misunderstandings, that perhaps wouldn't work for this show but what they chose instead does work. There is a style, cynicism and great sense of humour (Diop's one line delivery is perfect) and it really helps when she joins up with the group get things started. Beastboy is a nice, sweet young chap who it is hard not to like, gives Raven someone her own age and a cheery friend, his excitement at times is fun but he is badly underdeveloped.

In terms of the "guest" characters? The reaction to them individually (despite frustrations with the disruption) is positive to the individuals, they would watch any spin off or want more of them. One key difference is that most of these figures get one episode (one set gets two) then either vanish or begin to come into the main storyline, so they have to make a splash and the adventure has to be done that episode. They are well cast figures with a sense of humour and suit the story they have to tell

the others individually
-Loved Doom Patrol, the camaraderie, their powers, their care of the young Gar and friendliness towards his guest, glad they replaced the actor replaced Caulder as he didn't click. Loved the cook scene! Was the star episode of the opening set

-Dove (Minka Kelly) and Hawk (Alan Ritchson) provide the old guard, figures whose bodies is beginning to feel the toll of their battles to contrast with the younger figures. Provided a "someone other then the lead two" in opening episodes and had a strong "their own background" episode late on. A good romantic chemistry and Dove is second only to Cory with the observant one liners, glad they included Hawk's brother in an episode.

-Jason Todd (Curran Walters), the one (thank you Arkham) figure I was aware of from this selection before this show, really worked as a Robin episode as the new and the former ones tried to get along. The baddie chosen sucked but Todd provided a good youthful arrogance and the sense of violence that so alarms Dick, a good contrast and sparked well as a figure in own right.

-Donna Troy (Conor Leslie) aka Wondergirl, seems to be popular but it didn't quite click for me, the jokes not quite landing. She seems nice enough, her backstory with Dick of the elder sister role, the retired superherione angle works but it just lacks a spark.


thoughts on season
-Asylum episode was poor, I'm hoping season 2 will do more with Gar's struggles with what he did there. Been touched on once or twice

-At least now we have the Starfire is an alien out of way

-Felt season was summed up at the end, penultimate episode rings in the big bad, seems to set up for big show down and excitement for what happens next for the finale... then it goes into an episode about A "what if" in Dick's mind. It was a fun and intresting episode in itself, I liked the Batman villains we got glimpse of, but as the finale?

-Felt finale stretched there "we can't have an actor as Batman" to breaking point

-I liked the convent

-The "show each other powers" scene was fun particularly with Cory's sense of humour

-Really well done end of season teaser ending for next season, even we got excited


Now hoping someone here picks up Doom Patrol.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:48 am

Watched Trollhunters spin-off 3Below: Tales of Arcadia. Premise: On the alien planet of Akiridion-5, a coup is attempted with Princess Aja (Tatiana Maslany) and Prince Krel (Diego Luna) of House Tarron fleeing. They end up having to hide on earth with their pet Luug (Frank Welker) and their bodyguard Varvatos Vex (Nick Offerman) in the town of Arcadia.

It wasn't a spin off direction I expected, Aja and Krel had been nice enough side figures but not ones I had been drawn to. Early impressions were not good, Vex was annoying and one note, humour was crude and off, action and dynamics struggled. I didn't warm to the show but as time went on, I felt myself more pulled in. It found a way to balance out Vex, to vary up the humour, the imperial siblings began to click, it notably helped as they integrated into Arcadia, made friends, had people to bounce off. A nice romance, integrates the Troll hunter parts well while very much being it's own thing, big name voice cast do well, an alright villain.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:57 pm

Watched second and possibly last season of Fleabag, very much enjoyed it. Still a very good sense of humour, builds good themes and uses it intelligently, love the sister dynamics, opens strongly with family, excellent use of 4th wall for humour with a clever addition
one person can see her doing 4th wall
. The additions work well, particularly Andrew Scott's priest with strong performance and fitted in well. I slightly preferred season 1, the attempts to tighten things up go perhaps a little too well and the finale is good but one or two moments it slightly harms itself and lacks the brilliant end of the first season

Watched apocalyptic eight episode show Curfew. Premise: The world has been hit by an outbreak of a virus that turns people into zombie like creatures, curfews are implemented and totalitarian government installed. Every year however there is an illegal street race, set in UK this year, with winner promised the safety of an island. A lot of desperate racers set off for that desperate hope...

I was slightly wary of this as thought it would be heavily racing based so if your decision is based either way on that: the driving is a small part. There is some sense of race and trying to one up each other but this is mostly about scenes off the road be it flash backs or discussions, world building and trying to deal with an unexpected impediment. Don't expect major driving stunts or huge race segments.

It does fairly well setting out the world at the start and one or two of the groups of racers then episode by episode, expanding the knowledge of the main racers and their groups which also ads to sense of world. A good cast, some decent twists, mostly intresting characters, good "how do they get past this point/deal with this crises and how will the different groups" react, it build up well over the six episodes.

Then it goes wrong in last two episodes, the idea's make sense but the execution isn't quite right and momentum dries up. At least partly the issue is only episodes mean the end comes too soon and the "what, they are near the end of race already" defuses tension when it should have been building up and sense that there are things that still needed to be fleshed out. All in all I had a good time and glad I watched it but ending phase was just a bit flat.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”

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